Auburn University will require all of its employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to comply with an executive order by President Joe Biden that requires all federal contractors and subcontractors to be vaccinated by Dec. 8.
Employees at Auburn University have until Dec. 8 to be fully vaccinated unless they have an approved medical, disability or religious exemption, or face termination. To be fully vaccinated by the deadline, employees would have to receive their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or their single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Nov. 24
"Because this vaccination requirement is mandated by the federal government, our institutions do not have flexibility in its application or enforcement," said a news release from Auburn University. "Failure to comply will place our universities in jeopardy of losing hundreds of millions of dollars received through federal contracts and awards, as well as thousands of jobs funded by those dollars. This outcome would severely impact our institutions' teaching, research and service capabilities and could hamper economic development activity."
Biden's vaccine mandate prompted immediate pushback from Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and other GOP representatives. On Monday, Ivey issued her own executive order opposing the vaccine mandate that says it is "overreaching," "illegal," "egregious" and "onerous" and that Alabama is expected to join other states in fighting the mandate in courts.
" The federal government’s outrageous overreach has simply given us no other option but to begin taking action, which is why I am issuing this executive order to fight these egregious Covid-19 vaccine mandates. Alabamians — and Americans alike — should and must have the choice to roll up their sleeves to get this shot and certainly not forced by government," said Ivey in a news release. "I am adamantly opposed to federal mandates related to the Covid-19 vaccine and adamantly opposed to state mandates related to the Covid-19 vaccine, plain and simple. As long as I am your governor, the state of Alabama will not force anyone to take a Covid-19 vaccine. Through today’s order, the state of Alabama is making our position on this issue crystal clear."
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Tuesday 35 percent of all Lee County residents and 40 percent of residents ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. About 61 percent of those 65 and older in the county are fully vaccinated. Statewide, data show that 52 percent of citizens are fully vaccinated.
The Pfizer vaccine is expected to receive emergency-use authorization from the FDA for those ages 5 to 11 in the coming days after an expert committee recommended the move this week.
After Auburn University announced that it would enforce the vaccine mandate, all eyes turned toward the school's highest-paid employee, first-year head football coach Bryan Harsin, who will be paid $5 million for 2021. Harsin has previously declined to divulge his vaccine status and did so again on Monday.
"I'm aware of the new policy," said Harsin during his weekly press conference. "I appreciate you have to ask the question and understand it, but it doesn't change — I mean, the executive order, all those things – it doesn't change the fact that I'm not going to discuss any individual's decision or status on the vaccine or anyone else's, including my own, like I said before."
Harsin missed 10 days of fall camp after testing positive for Covid-19 on Aug. 19.